~ Chapter 32: The journey to Marook ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
Once more we were traveling towards the capital of the Dragon Kingdom Albeyater, Drakaria. To reach it, we had to pass through the city of Marook and then reach Toros town, where we would cross the Great Chasm or whatever it was called.
To be fair, on the map, the city appeared to be at a stick throw away, but things could be deceiving. It was at more than a one day away. When I heard this, I was thinking in Earth days, but on this planet, a day had 32 hours, meaning that we would arrive in Marook after two Earth days.
Confusing, I know...
Well, that wasn't the biggest problem. Right after we left Pertiko, during our first stop, Seryanna took out her sword and pointed its sharp tip at me.
“Spar with me.” she demanded.
I agreed, and the result was me winning, but she didn't seem very pleased about it.
“You rely too much on your luck to win. Your skill timing is dull. Although you won, it was only because you had more strength than I do. Still, even when you are more powerful than me, I could still pose a challenge. Such a thing shouldn't have been possible, especially with your luck.” she scolded me.
“Does it really matter? I managed to win! I'm stronger even than those paladins, so why should I bother?” I asked with a shrug.
Seryanna squinted her eyes at me.
“What if you were to meet someone equally strong?” she asked.
“I would win... eventually.” I nodded.
“That I do not believe.” Kataryna said as she raised an eyebrow.
“I defeated you, didn't I?” I asked.
“I didn't go at full strength against you.” she smirked.
“Ugh... true, but...” I tried to sneak my way out.
“You would have lost if I fought with everything I had, especially if I used certain spells.” she wasn't letting me go.
For a moment, I wanted to retort, but then I remembered what happened to typical movie and game characters who were too reliant on certain abilities. They ended up as cannon fodder for the enemy.
If things are the same here, then I'm probably end up becoming a bit too cocky with my Luck. I thought and then let out a sigh.
“Very well, let's do this. What's the harm in sharpening my skills?” I shrugged.
Seryanna showed me a beautiful smile that made me blush.
“Shall we begin then?” she asked.
“Yup!” I replied.
What was that saying? Famous last words?
My beautiful redhead dragoness was a jewel as a woman and a real Demon Queen as a trainer. I believe my bones broke several times, and my joints bent in ways not possible. I also became rather used to drinking healing potions and very skillful at making them too.
Note to self... never make a dragoness angry. I thought as I drank a potion and healed my broken hand.
“Are you alright?” she asked me.
“Yes, I can still feel my pinkie finger!” I joked.
“Hm, then my training is lacking. During our next stop, we'll do everything from the start and double the amount!” she nodded satisfied.
I dropped the bottle.
“What?” I asked in shock.
“Don't worry, we'll be able to sharpen those dull skills of yours in no time at all!” she gave me a kiss on the cheek, while I was frozen in fear.
“Double?” I asked as my mind was already trying to pack things and get on the first train to Nopeville.
“Should I go for triple then?” she tilted her head to the left.
“What? No! I will die!” I complained.
Normally, thanks to my insane stats, it should have literally been impossible to inflict so much damage on my body, but Kataryna was the one doing the punching and stabbing and hitting. I was left to use the least power possible to fight against her. It was like trying to stop a tank with a tricycle... And by tank, I mean a modern tank capable of going over 100km/h... Simply IMPOSSIBRU!!!
All of this was meant to sharpen my skills, perception, reflexes, everything. Up until now, thanks to luck, I was able to get away unscathed, but someone of greater skill could inflict some serious damage on me. This meant that I was a tough opponent, but not unbeatable. Kleo pointed out that most humans were quite agile and intelligent when it came to combat techniques, so they skillfully used this to their advantage against the naturally powerful dragons. The latter weren't complete dolts, so they eventually created techniques and skills of their own to combat the humans. That was the reason why they were able to push further into the dragon continent, and since dragons didn't led a conquering war, they were mostly on defensive.
So, while my strength, speed, and dexterity went up, my skills didn't. To learn a skill, I had to end up feeling it develop naturally, or so they said. Then again it was possible that the ones I already gained through the God-like's system were far better than those I could have learned from them, but I didn't mention this. I didn't want to sound like a bragger... or a complete idiot if proved wrong.
When night time came, we prepared the camps as usual, but this time Kataryna handled the cooking, while I trained with Seryanna. Kleo went out to hunt something in the woods. That was the first time I ate a grilled giant centipede. It tasted like eating chicken-flavored french fries dipped in a week-old oil. That was my guess, but there was a high chance I was very wrong about it, since I never had the opportunity of tasting something like that back in Romania.
After we ate, we slept in separate tents. Well, Kleo and Kataryna did, Seryanna slept with me. Despite the fact that we weren't doing anything besides hugging and kissing, she seemed to be rather attached to me. If this was the normal behavior for most dragonesses, then I had a feeling it was more instinctual than habitual or personality wise.
I didn't mind this side of hers, though, but every time I embraced her, I still felt embarrassed, and while the lower part was at risk of going wild, I managed to hide it well. Even so, I was beginning to ask myself how long I was going to last before I jumped on her. Taking her into my embrace and spending a night of passion like in those... ahem... educational videos was a tempting, but fantasy was one thing, reality another. Even so, my mind was spinning in circles... Humans were horny monkeys after all... 24/7... all year long.
There was a good reason why I didn't just... do it. For once, I believed Seryanna wanted to take it slow, and this skinship we currently had was only a result of her possessive instincts towards a possible mate. Secondly, I didn't want our first time to be in the middle of the woods with one horny silver-scaled dragoness and a prankster maniac five steps away from us. The implications with that one were terrible. Lastly, I was afraid I was going to mess up and not know what to do, thus, embarrassing myself and making her hate me... or worse... laughing at me. Although the last one was a bit far fetched, it was still there, poking at the back of my mind.
Lack of experience in any field is frightening at first... I thought as I looked at the sleeping dragoness in my arms.
She was beautiful, charming... incredibly attractive. More than once I kept asking myself if I really deserved her, but that was a silly question. The fear of going further with her was real though. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to the bottom of it, to find out why it was. Thus, I had no idea how to get over it, but I knew it was there. If I wasn't able to make it go away, I decided to ask Kataryna's opinion about it, or Brekkar's... definitely not Kleo's. She would turn it into a prank.
“Why am I still afraid of you?” I wondered as I gave her a soft kiss on the forehead and closed my eyes.
[Kataryna's point of view]
Thanks to a certain soon-to-be-dead black-scaled dragoness, I ended up awake for quite a bit of time. I never liked coffee. I was too sensitive to it, but she somehow managed to sneak it inside my food. No wonder it tasted funny. The others didn't seem to have such a problem, however, while I was in this state, my senses were rather sharp, so I happened to hear what Alkelios said.
He's afraid of Seryanna? Why? I wondered, and to tire myself out and finally get a wink of sleep, I tried to get to the bottom of it.
Remembering all the humans I encountered so far, I pieced together little by little the reasons as to why she would cause him to be afraid, but so far, there were more reasons to be afraid of me than her, but it didn't seem that to be case.
I wonder if it's about her being a dragon and him a human? They would certainly not be viewed well by either species... and then there's the matter of a child. While I have no problems with it, she's... not at this point yet. I doubt Alkelios even thought about it so far. Also, in their case, if they don't want it, the chances will be even lower. His Luck may be good, but it's not up to the point where it can break the laws of the gods. Hm, the child won't be viewed kindly either... since it would be a half. Is this what's bothering him? as I continued to think about this, my thought pattern was going towards the extremes.
For now it wasn't like the two were married yet. There was a chance that this was going to be a temporary relationship. I've seen plenty of those in my lifetime. Even I had one... Nevertheless, when you are part of it, you believe she or he was the one. Reality tends to rain down upon us rather painfully when we realize that was never the case.
In the end... I slept only for a couple of hours, and I didn't manage to get to the bottom of why Alkelios would say something like that. Only time would tell where their relationship was headed and how much drama was ahead of them.
[Alkelios' point of view]
With the light of day washing over us, we slowly woke up from our deep sleep and prepared the breakfast. I was in charge of managing the fire, while Kleo and Seryanna gathered the water. Kataryna prepared the leftover meat from yesterday.
We ate our full and then waited for another half an hour for the food to settle down before departing. With nothing else to do, I asked Seryanna to tell what she knew about the kingdom, how it worked and what I had to watch out for.
“With your strength, you don't have to watch out for much. Bandits and robbers are former Beginner or Intermediary Rank Adventurers who had their guild cards revoked. As you are now, you can easily fight with ease among those of Godlike and Supreme Rank.” she began her explanation.
“Oh, I heard about this before! The current ranks are: Beginner, Intermediary, Master, Emperor, Godlike, and Supreme! Although, wouldn't an ABCD form have been better?” I asked curiously.
“ABCD?” she looked at me a bit confused.
“Why would the adventurers be ordered in a chaotic alphabetic order?” asked Kataryna.
“Huh? Doesn't the alphabet go like A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and so on?” I asked.
“No.” Seryanna shook her head.
“Each species and language have their own alphabetic order. For Dragons, it's usually D, G, T, Er, Na, L, V, and so on.” Kleo explained with a smile.
“Humans use T, N, G, F, D, and so on.” Seryanna said.
“Haaah... For some reason I thought the alphabet would be similar to mine.” I shrugged.
“I highly doubt it. We're talking about different cultures and species here. There's no reason for the alphabet to be similar.” Seryanna explained.
Indeed, if I thought about it a little better, Japan, China, Russia, and Romania all had different characters and alphabets. Although similar in some way or manner, they were only developed later in our history, after the widespread of public school and the rise of literacy levels.
“Using names that are easily understood by all species is the best. Everyone knows what a Supreme or a Beginner means. If all of a sudden they had to use letters, it wouldn't make much sense for most species and cultures.” explained Seryanna.
“Are the cultures separated in species or are there multiple kingdoms for each species?” I asked curiously.
“Every species have multiple kingdoms and empires. While an entire species can view another as an enemy, there are groups within both which fight for coexistence or neutrality. Thus, there are even some human kingdoms who see no reason as to why they should battle us. Those are the ones located on the opposite side of the Human Continent. Even among dragons, Albeyater is only one of our many kingdoms.” she then pointed to our left. “Over there, after Drakaria, you will reach Dragon Empire Embryger. Then to our south is Dragon Kingdom Solustia. After that you will find Dragon Kingdom Merganus. Past them, you will find a couple more.” she explained.
“The humans have a lot more kingdoms and empires than we do, but they are weaker individually and smaller. If I remember right, there are the following: Human Kingdom Ten Swords, Human Kingdom Shiva, Human Kingdom Nocturn, Human Kingdom Opharya, Human Kingdom Majin, Human Empire Akutan, Human Empire Devaska, Human Empire Treigun, and that's about it.” said Kataryna as she scratched her head.
“Well, if your information is from 300 years ago, then it should be accurate.” said Seryanna.
“It's from one hundred years ago actually, but humans are very chaotic when it comes to how they organize themselves. Kingdoms rise and fall on their continent in the time it takes a dragon to yawn.” she shrugged.
“True...” I confirmed as I remembered how weird and constantly changing the history of Earth was starting the 18th century and into the 21st century.
Even now we didn't know just how accurate and true our own history was, seeing how the truth was always written by the winners of the wars. Chances were that in the past there may have been a lot more significant cultures, but historians at that time simply denied their existence.
I remember my history teacher once telling us that if mankind were to know the true history of each country, then both the debts and war crimes compensations would simply rise to exponential levels. Not to mention the very fact that our borders would become incredibly unstable. It wasn't unusual for lies to be fabricated regarding whose territory belonged to whom. With this, he pointed at Moldova, Transilvania, Crimea, the islands to the north of Japan, and many many others.
“Does trade exists between kingdoms of different species?” I asked curiously.
“Yes. The Merchants Guild handles most transaction, but import and export towards another species is usually very costly unless the two have a peace or trade treaty. Weapon deals between kingdoms at war or species at war such as dragons and humans are forbidden completely.” Seryanna explained.
“Are there beastmen?” I asked.
“Beastmen?” she looked at me with a furrowed brow.
“Erm, they look like animals, but they walk on two legs, talk and use weapons like us?” I tried to explain.
“Ah! He must be talking about the beastkin! Well, they are also called relliars.” said Kataryna.
“Yeah, those... so they exist here as well?” I asked.
“Yes. They enjoy trading and hunting more than they do war. Some human kingdoms, however, see them as inferior and enslave them. If I were to say, the humans have the worst relationships with all other species, especially some of their kingdoms. From what I know, there isn't even one of them striving for coexistence.” Seryanna explained.
“That's sad... Makes me a feel a bit worried about how I will be treated once we reach the capital.” I said with a sigh.
“As long as you don't undress, you can pass on as an Unawakened Dragon, however, once we enter the palace, you will have to identify yourself as a human and my companion.”
“What are the chances for dragons to hate me for absolutely nothing and try to assassinate me or trick me or something like that?” I asked her as I remembered the countless cliché situations from the stories I read and experienced in games.
“Very high. Dragons are not without fault, so there will be those who hold an undeserved grudge or hate towards you for simply being a human. But don't worry, I'll do everything I can to protect you.” she smiled and then kissed my cheek.
“We'll be there as well. Being a dragoness with an Awakened Breakthrough, I have a bit of influence.” Kataryna said with a smirk.
“But indeed, don't let your guard down... There are good dragons and then there are the trash... just ignore them, especially if they are some stuffed up noble.” Kleo remarked.
“I understand, I'll be careful.” I nodded and then hugged Seryanna from behind.
“Awawa~! What are you doing?” she asked embarrassed.
“Hugging my girlfriend... it's nice...” I told her with a smirk as I laid my chin on her shoulder and wrapped my arms around her waist, pulling myself closer to her.
“I will permit it...” she said while blushing.
“When you two get a room, let me know! I want to watch!” Kleo announced.
“NO!” both me and Seryanna replied at the same time.
Thus, we leisurely made our way to Marook, the city before the town before the capital. We still had a long way to go...
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